An ideas team working on future project and services at Ordnance Survey has created a map of Great Britain for use in Minecraft.

The GB map is made of 22 billion blocks and was created using the freely available digital map products in OS OpenData.

The map represents over 224,000 square kilometres of Great Britain and was created using OS Terrain 50, a three-dimensional model of the bare earth surface known as a Digital Terrain Model delivered as a grid with a resolution of 50 metres.

The raster version of OS VectorMap District, a mid-scale contextual or backdrop map product, was then used to extract surface features - for example water, woodland and roads - based on pixel colours and densities.

"The purpose of our Labs team is to explore and assess ideas for new products and services," explained Graham Dunlop, Innovation Lab Manager at Ordnance Survey. "When Joseph Braybrook joined the team as part of Ordnance Survey's summer internship programme, we discovered he was an avid Minecraft fan and we decided to explore the potential educational benefits of the popular video game. We decided to build a Minecraft world using free-to-use OS OpenData products to display the landscape and terrain of Great Britain."

All players will enter the GB map at Ordnance Survey's head office in Southampton, but can walk or teleport to locations such as Snowdonia, Pool Harbour and central London. Players can also add their own real-life features to the map, such as Stonehenge.

To help players navigate the map, Ordnance Survery has linked the world to its OS getamap service making it possible to search for a location and its grid reference. A conversion tool then generates the Minecraft telepot command.

In order to fit within the 256 block height limit of Minecraft the team had to scale the world to size. This means Ben Nevis is just over 128 blocks high, exaggerating its real world height but enabling low-lying coastal features such as Bournemouth's cliffs to be preserved.

Source: Press release with further information over on